Thursday Open Thread: Stupid Rating Stunts

Tonight is a night that no one on Grey’s Anatomy will ever forget. It’s the night that their careers will be forever tainted because they participated in Grey’s Anatomy: The Musical Episode.

You know, I really wish I were kidding. But no. This show, that strives to be a dramatic representation of a hospital — no quirks, not fantasy, no make-believe — is doing a musical episode. Now, before you picture McDreamy dancing up and down the hallways, I don’t think it’s that extreme, but in a show like this, a musical episode just doesn’t fit, and I find it incredibly dumb. It’s a stunt, just to get people to watch.

Sadly, because I want to see how much of a trainwreck it is, I’m probably going to fall in that trap, but I’ll be sure to do it on my own TiVo that was homemade on my own time this weekend, so my one eensy viewing will hopefully not help their ratings. You can let me know if my plan won’t work that way. But anyway, all of this is to ask:

What is the stupidest TV rating stunt you’ve seen?

This can be cameo appearances or guest stars. Ridiculous plotlines. “Live” shows (we can thank ER for starting that trend). Fantasy or dream episodes. Heck, even musical episodes.

Actually, I think hospital shows tend to fall in this category a lot. I mean, ER had a helicopter chop off someone’s arm, only to have him recuperate and die once another helicopter fell on him. Grey’s Anatomy had an episode where a bomb was in someone’s chest.

But it’s not just drama that can do too much. Scrubs once did an episode where everyone was some fantastical, medieval character, and Turk and Carla were a two-headed monster. Every time I see that episode rerun, I change the channel. Or what about soaps, when we had the serial killer on Days of Our Lives, only to have them all be alive on some secret island (or was it a room? I forget).

Anyway, there are some stupid stunts on TV, and while they may not all be during sweeps, they are all to get people to watch. So which one bothered you? Let me know in the comments.

Don’t these people know that’s why you do musical theater while you’re on hiatus? Bah.

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6 thoughts on “Thursday Open Thread: Stupid Rating Stunts

  1. I always thought cross-over episodes were dumb. I want my TV show universes contained, dammit! I seem to remember Fox trying to do an X-Files crossover to boost ratings on Millenium. Cross-overs always stink of desperation to me.

  2. For the most part, agree with JC abotu cross overs. But as a sci fi fan, cross overs are some of the biggest nerdgasimic episodes there can be. Especially when spin off series get characters from former shows like Stargate and its spin offs Atlantis and SGU. Star Trek is another one when fans go crazy when originals show up on TNG. Of course, the latest Eureka and warehous 13 cross over was fun, but not really that great. I do like it though that the Syfy channel considers all their shows part of the same universe. Of course that means the Earth is under peril almost every single day from 4-5 different shows.

    I agree with hospital shows. House had a musical number the other week and it was horrible. House is the biggest genius/jerk/grumpy old man here is. He shoudl not be singing and dancing, even if it is a dream.

  3. I guess it really depends on the cross-over. I remember back in the day liking the Practice/Ally McBeal crossover, but I bet if I watched it now, Dylan McDermott would drive me nuts.

    And while it wasn’t a crossover, I did like the Blackout of Must-See TV NBC Thursday back in ’96 (or was it ’94)? No characters crossed over, but Jamie and Paul caused a city-wide blackout in Mad About You, which carried over through Friends and another show. Seinfeld didn’t, though, so that’s just another reason why Seinfeld sucks. 😛

  4. The Grey’s Anatomy ep was terrible. It has tainted Gomez for me with a horrible rendition of the beginning of “How We Operate”. And can we finally put the Fray’s “How To Save A Life” to bed now? It was horribly played out years ago by this actual show (in addition to others) BEFORE the cast sang it in tonight’s musical episode.

    Also, just as an aside, Scrubs’s fantasy episode wasn’t exactly a rating stunt. It was just an episode using a unique idea with poor implementation. But I don’t recall any week-long buildup for it by the network.

    Frankly, my nominee would be the near constant tease of serious matters covered in NBC’s constant teasers for “a very special Blossom”. There were several week-long build ups for what usually ended up being just another average episode about big nosed kid, her fast talking friend, and her brother who said “Whoa” a lot.

  5. I suppose you’re right, CS. The Scrubs fantasy ep maybe wasn’t a “rating stunt.” Maybe it was just a “stunt,” or as you describe it, a unique idea with poor implementation.

    A rating stunt that Scrubs did do, though, was having the Sesame Street characters on it, but I didn’t mind that. It’s not my favorite episode, but the last montage with the cover of the theme song made it worth it.

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